Published: 20th October 2020
How Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences is providing Odisha's youth access to quality education
The children of KISS are educated, modern and they use their knowledge to improve their lives - be it through practice of better hygiene
Plenty of people have ideas, but few can actually convert them into actions and bring about enormous social change. And even among them, only a handful can tackle these problems at their grassroots, and provide successful solutions. Prof Achyuta Samanta, through his institution - Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), is one such person. Founded in 1992-93, when Odisha was a land of minimal economic opportunities for tribal people, KISS was set up as an institution with the best possible infrastructure to educate tribal youth, transform the local indigenous community, and bring socio-economic benefits to them, while still protecting and preserving their ancient heritage and culture.
Alleviation from poverty, prevention of hunger, illiteracy and poor health, and social upliftment are the primary drivers behind Professor Samanta's vision for KISS. KISS provides free residence, boarding, holistic education from kindergarten to post-graduation (KG to PG), vocational education, "earn-while-you-learn" facilities, life-skills training, sports training among many more, to tribal students. What began as small school for a few hundred tribal toddlers has grown into a full-scale institution with a sprawling campus and state-of-the-art infrastructure, which accommodates, feeds and educates over 60,000 tribal students from all over Odisha. Today, KISS employs more than 3000 faculty and staff, who work non-stop to help tribal students achieve and perform. Over the years, the students of KISS have excelled in academics and extra-curricular activities, with many noted Olympians and sportspersons being students of KISS, representing the nation and bringing glory.
The children of KISS are educated, modern and they use their knowledge to improve their lives - be it through practice of better hygiene, refusal to get married at a young age, or not be swayed towards left-wing extremism.
The parents are also involved and invested into their child's future because of the quality free education provided by KISS, which encourages them to push their children even further. KISS has also ensured that the tribal girls are not left behind, as now nearly 60% of the students of KISS are female, who are shaking gender stereotypes and applying to government or corporate jobs based on merit. Their enhanced knowledge pushes them to learn more about their culture, and take steps to preserve it. In Odisha, where nearly 25% of the population is tribal, KISS has made a major mark in ensuring that the youth are provided access to quality education, so that they can use their knowledge to contribute to the economy.
Professor Samanta's work at KISS has brought him global recognition, with many statesmen, academics, luminaries, activists, and even Nobel laureates visiting KISS and marvelling at the amazing social service being done.
World bodies like the UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO US-English Access, François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB International), Switzerland, embassies and consulates of several countries. In 2015, the United Nations Organization conferred Special Consultative Status on KISS elevating it to the most distinguished club of special few globally privileged and recognised non-governmental social service organisations around the world.
Over the years, KISS has acquired recognition as an apex institute and an unquestionable centre of tribal learning, education and holistic development. Showing incredible determination and patience even when the odds were stacked against him, Professor Samanta has continued with his mission and passion, and given his life towards the education and development of tribal people. His work makes him like the messiah of the indigenous tribal community in Odisha. The impact of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences and Dr. Samanta is huge, and indirectly transforms and improves the lives of nearly one million indigenous people. In the fields of education, vocational training, health, and employment, KISS has been transforming lives for the last 28 years, and will continue to do so for many more years in the future. Tribal people deserve a life without poverty, illiteracy and hunger, and KISS and Prof. Samanta provides them the unique platform to do so.
This piece has been created and hosted in partnership with Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences